Terrible Truths about TLE

Post date: Jan 10, 2015 1:43:56 PM

Student Academic Growth Portion of TLE is UNFAIR and INEQUITABLE

In a short video with clear and helpful graphics, the TLE Coordinator at Moore Public Schools, the district's superintendent, and a site principal outline the significant and troubling problems with the Student Academic Growth portion of the TLE appraisal system:

But We Must Comply

However, despite its obvious failings, implementation of the new and flawed Student Academic Growth section of TLE is mandated by state law as implemented by the State Board of Education. So Bartlesville, like other districts, is moving forward with VAM training and SLO/SOO training and development.

One of the few protections teachers receiving a VAM have is for site principals to carefully scrutinize the SLO/SOO proposals to ensure they are rigorous and attainable. The catch is that the SLO/SOO process is now rushed, due to lengthy delays in the rollout from the TLE Commission and the state department of education. Teachers are being forced to rapidly develop and deploy new assessments on top of the already excessive testing mandated by federal, state, and local policies. So teachers and principals are under tremendous pressure to water down SLOs/SOOs to avoid sabotaging themselves with this new, burdensome, and untried procedure.

Bartlesville's Senator Ford is a leader of TLE, serving on the TLE Commission, so local teachers are urged to reach out to both him and Representative Sears and point out the problems with the new Student Academic Growth portion of TLE and why they should be suspended or scrapped.

UPDATE: Senator Ford has introduced Senate Bill 706 to delay implementation of the quantitative portions of TLE until 2017-2018.

An Example of the Hardball the State Department of Education Plays

Our district's recent experience with the other quantitative portion of TLE, Other Academic Measures, is instructive. All teachers statewide were forced to adopt pilot OAMs in 2013-2014, and the reading and math goals our district created were designed to protect teachers from the arbitrary shifts in state testing cutoffs and state-issued site and district report cards by comparing our performance to the statewide indices that would subjected to the same annual manipulations.

But then the legislature arbitrarily eliminated district report cards, invalidating many of our pilot year goals. Far worse, the state department of education failed to release a state report card when it released the latest version of the site report cards (which respected researchers said were misleading and invalid). Our repeated requests to the state department of education for the needed indices to evaluate our pilot year goals yielded no data.

So our district could not complete a pilot-year OAM report in October, and continued to receive no information from the state department to evaluate our goals. We had to pick new OAMs in October without any feedback on how the pilot-year goals went, except that the state legislature and department of education had sabotaged all of them.

In December the state department of education surprised our district with a threat to recommend to the state board of education that our district's state aid be suspended because we had not filed the OAM report. We re-iterated that it was impossible to do so without the state report card which they had clearly suppressed.

Finally, with the threat of a vote in a couple of days by the state board of education to deny our state funding, Dr. Barresi herself had to authorize the release of the state report card to our district so we could evaluate almost 450 pilot-year goals. Mr. Meador, the BEA Chief Negotiator who devised the pilot-year goals, hurriedly calculated their results so that Ms. Martinez and Mr. McCauley at the ESC could quickly complete the state report and file it, preventing us from losing millions of dollars in state funding.

Will things improve?

Sadly, this sort of abusive and unprofessional behavior became the norm during the tenure of State Superintendent Barresi. Joy Hofmeister, the Republican who won the election for state superintendent, will take office on Monday, January 12, 2015. We can hope that she will move quickly to begin repairing some of the damage from the Barresi administration. But she cannot ignore adopted state board of education policies nor state law. The flawed and inequitable Student Academic Growth section of TLE cannot be stopped, for now, without new legislation passed by both houses of the legislature and sent to the governor.